News / Economy

    US Unemployment Benefits Set to Run Out

    Out-of-work Americans will lose federal assistance unless Congress extends it

    More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.
    More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.

    Hundreds of thousands of Americans will see their federal unemployment benefits expire this week, and millions more by the end of the year, unless Congress acts to extend them.

    The payments are designed to provide the jobless with just enough temporary income to cover basic needs while they look for work. Congress has repeatedly prolonged the duration of those payments amid high U.S. unemployment but another extension is far from assured.

    More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent. Millions of Americans have been without work for a year or more, taking a severe financial - and often emotional - blow.

    In Pennsylvania, unemployed sales manager Gregg Rosen has cut back on everything from food to medication, and can no longer help support his disabled mother.

    "That devastates me," he said.

    Many idled workers are frustrated.

    "I've been out looking for work every day, and I'm just not getting anywhere," said one unemployed worker in Rhode Island.

    President Barack Obama has consistently pressed Congress to extend federal benefits for the unemployed. "We've got a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families even as they are looking for another job," he said.

    But Capitol Hill is bracing for a repeat of the last extension battle in July, when Republicans objected to further benefits unless other federal spending was cut by an equal amount.

    "The bill before us today is the ninth extension of unemployment benefits since mid-2008," said Rep. Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican. "And with the exception of just one bill last November, every one of those extensions was not paid for. That's a total of $135 billion added to our $14 trillion debt."

    Analysts note that unemployment benefits are meant to be temporary, but the severity of the recession and the slow pace of the economic recovery have led many Americans to rely on the program for a prolonged period.

    "People say 'You do not want to discourage people from looking for work by giving them too generous an income replacement,'" says Eric Toder, an economist and former U.S. Treasury official. "I think the feeling is now that there isn't 10 percent unemployment because people aren't looking for work. There is high unemployment because there aren't jobs."

    Toder adds that the unemployed usually spend all the benefits they receive, providing stimulus to the economy as a whole.

    Extending unemployment benefits is but one of many items Democrats hope to achieve in a brief end-of-year congressional session. Passage is considered likely in the House of Representatives, but questionable in the Senate, where Republicans can use procedural motions to block legislation.

    Some jobless workers have mounted protests in the past to press for an extension of benefits, and say they stand ready to do so again - even at a cost to their pride.

    "You know I'm not used to this," said one unemployed woman who was among the protesters. "I don't want to be begging people."

    Most economists expect the unemployment rate to remain above nine percent for months to come.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8899
    JPY
    USD
    114.87
    GBP
    USD
    0.6937
    CAD
    USD
    1.3904
    INR
    USD
    68.044

    Rates may not be current.